From education to employment

NUS calls for work restrictions on international students to be relaxed amidst cost-of-living crisis

The 20-hour working limit for international students has impacted 70% of international students’ ability to find suitable work, NUS UK survey finds.

Today NUS has launched a petition calling on the government to make it easier for international students to work while they study.

Under current UK law, international students on a Tier 4 Visa can work a maximum of 20 hours per week alongside their studies. A new survey conducted by the National Union of Students has found that 70% of international students believe this cap has impacted their ability to find suitable work.

The students surveyed said they believe this is because many specialist employers are not looking for part time workers, limiting the jobs available in fields relevant to their degrees.

Furthermore, the cap on working hours means that many international students cannot make ends meet. A previous NUS survey found that, of those students who work, almost 1 in 5 work more than 20 hours per week due to cost-of-living pressures. International students are excluded from doing this, putting them in financial difficulty.

Earlier this year, Stirling student Muhammad Rauf Waris was arrested and held in Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre for over seven weeks for allegedly working more than 20 hours a week, an experience that had a profoundly negative impact on his physical and mental health.

Commenting, NUS Vice President Liberation and Equality, Nehaal Bajwa, said: 

“Separate rules for how long home and international students can work creates a potential for exploitation and discrimination in the workplace. It’s time to redress this inequality – doing so is in everyone’s interests.

“Most students don’t work for a bit of extra pocket money: many are forced to work long hours just to afford rent and food. The limit on how much international students can work means that international students simply cannot make ends meet. They don’t receive maintenance loans to begin with, so the cap on their working hours means they must support themselves, and often their families, on a part-time wage.

“In the short term, we are calling on the UK Government to lift the cap on how many hours international students can work so that international students have the same opportunities as everyone else.

“In the long term, we want to see a sustainable system of grants and hardship funds for all students, including international students, so they can afford to study in the UK without needing to work more than 20 hours a week.

“No student should have to choose between affording rent and the possibility of being deported.”

Anuj Baral, the President of Greenwich Students’ Union, who has launched a petition to the UK Government says- 

“I have seen first-hand the detrimental impact of limiting the hours international students can work. With the majority of students working in minimum wage jobs, they cannot earn enough to sustain themselves at university. Lifting the cap on working hours would bring equality to the labour market and create a more welcoming environment for international students.”  

Sai Shraddha S. Viswanathan, VP Welfare, Aberdeen University Students’ Association, said: 

“The additional restriction on working hours not only makes employment opportunities less accessible to international students, but also makes it difficult for students to sustain themselves generally in this cost-of-living crisis. A lot of these students invest their life savings or are forced to resort to private student loans with huge interest rates to pay their tuition. They rely on current and future employment to pay back their debts, as well as achieve their best potential in their careers.”

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